A new research report by Nissan India and SaveLIFE Foundation brought attention to the startling number of Indians compromising their and their children’s safety.
Released today by Nitin Gadkari, union minister for road transport & highways, the study titled ‘Rear Seat-Belt Usage and Child Road Safety in India’, found that over 90 percent respondents reported not using a rear seat-belt, thereby risking their safety. This was further confirmed through an observational survey, conducted at strategic locations in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Kolkata, and Lucknow, revealing that 98 percent respondents were in fact not using their rear-seat belt. Usage of rear seat-belts is very low despite over 70 percent of people affirming to the presence of rear seat-belts.
The study also focused on the safety of children during a commute and revealed that two-thirds of respondents believed that Indian roads are unsafe for children. The report also revealed that despite 92.8 percent of respondents reported being aware of the safety benefits of child helmets, only 20.1 percent of respondents owned a child helmet. This becomes especially relevant in light of the latest data released by the ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) according to which 9,408 children lost their lives to road crashes in the year 2017 alone. This translates to nearly 26 child deaths on Indian roads every day.
With its findings, the report also builds a strong case for a comprehensive national Road Safety law, or the passage of Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill to bridge the policy-implementation gap and build a robust enforcement mechanism for better compliance. The need for both, better policy awareness and implementation, is evident in the report’s findings; only 27.7 percent of respondents were aware that rear seat-belt usage is already mandated under the current law in India. Further, 91.4 percent of respondents felt the need for a strong child road safety law in India.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Nitin Gadkari said, ” As India continues on its trajectory of rapid infrastructure growth, the role of road safety acquires immense importance. Through a combination of policy and awareness creation measures, the government has given road safety the critical importance it deserves. I would like to laud this initiative, and the willingness of corporate India and civil society to work together to make road safety a people’s movement.”
Commenting on the launch of the report, Thomas Kuehl, president, Nissan India Operations, said, “While there have been various initiatives undertaken to raise awareness around road safety in India, the importance of wearing rear seat belts has been completely neglected. At Nissan, it is our vision to enrich people’s lives and through this initiative, we aim to raise awareness around the usage of rear seat belts. Our strategic partnership with SaveLIFE Foundation and SHARP will set a strong base to bring attention towards this important issue. The first phase of our campaign will focus on reaching out and educating over 200k children in 240 schools across 12 cities on the usage of rear seat belts and road safety.”
Commenting on the National Study, Piyush Tewari, founder, and CEO of SaveLIFE Foundation, noted, “This report documents, for the first time in India, the concerning state of child safety on our roads and the public’s perception and expectation regarding the usage of rear seat belts. High road crash fatality cannot be accepted as the norm. It is high time that basic provisions such as child helmets, safety measures in school zones, child seats, special training for the school bus and van drivers, and adult accountability be made mandatory across the country. We look forward to the government’s help in enabling a change in mindset at a national level.”
The ‘Rear Seat Belt Usage and Child Road Safety in India’ study, conducted by research firm MDRA for Nissan India and SaveLIFE Foundation, covered 11 Indian cities and recorded responses through 6,306 face-to-face interviews, 100 in-depth expert interviews, two focused group discussions and on-site observations to gauge compliance of CBSE School Bus guidelines as well as usage of rear seat belts.